"I'm only happy when I'm on stage. I just feed off the energy
of the audience. That's what I'm all about- people and laughter."
many hats a speaker wears is one that reads “Energy Manager.” We know, as do
the planners who hire us, that the attendees at a program experience one of two
energy flow states. At just about any moment, they're either being energized or
they are being drained of their liveliness.
or not the participants remain alert and interested depends on many things, not
the least of which is how we understand and direct the flow of their energy,
particularly that energy which flows between the audience and ourselves up on
the platform. When we say we “connect” with our audience, we are referring to
the energy stream flowing between them and us. The quality of this connection
with the speaker determines the level of our own success, because the state
these attendees find themselves in often determines the level of success the
meeting achieves. When the audience is charged by our presence and the
attention is directed toward us, we are where we want to be and they are where
we want them! This is what is meant by “holding the audience’s attention.”
Understanding the Energy in a Room
level of the audience defines the emotional state of the group in the same way
lighting sets the tone in a theater production, where changing lights indicate
a shift in mood. In the theater, the illumination fills in the holes and
occupies the spaces between characters, events and sets. During a speech in
front of an audience, which consists of sets of human relationships (between us
and the audience, among the audience members themselves, and between the
audience members and the people that are on their minds), the energy
illuminates the dynamics of the group. Energy is what fills in the psychic
space linking the people who are present in the room.
stands to reason that the way we orchestrate the energy in a room essentially
has the effect of working like a thermostat, controlling the emotional climate
among the attendees. We wouldn’t let the room get too hot or too cold because
we need to keep the participants alert and interested in order to make the
meeting successful from the point of view of the meeting organizer. Our
platform poise serves a purpose similar to that of a thermostat. We are
managing many different relationships and people to make a program successful.
In essence, we are directing the audience without them knowing it.
of “Authenticity” The proficiency in developing the ability to “hold the audience”
comes from developing that ubiquitous presenters’ buzzword:
authenticity. Common wisdom at workshops, conventions and business meetings
holds that if you are authentic, the audience will be interested in you.
Indeed, authenticity is like a dose of caffeine for the attention span. Being
authentic on the platform has the effect of holding the audience’s attention as
surely as a magician’s hands do as he weaves the set-up story before the trick.
With a magician as with a speaker, we use laser-like intensity to try and find
something we know we won’t see. We don’t see how it’s done; yet we enjoy it
The 3 Components of Platform Authenticity Therefore, it makes sense that many a hard-earned speaker dollar is spent on becoming authentic. But what exactly are we buying? After all, being “authentic” means being true to one's own personality, spirit or character. Is that something we need to purchase? Isn’t our source of genuineness always within us? Developing authenticity is a matter of understanding what makes us real on the platform. We can break authenticity down into three elements. We can then nurture the three elements that help make us real, the three fundamental aspects of authenticity that make us attractive to the audience: vulnerability, presence and spontaneity.
“Understanding the Energy of Attraction, Part 2: The 3 Essentials of Attraction” will be our next months post.
Izzy Gesell (Izzy's website) is an organizational alchemist who helps individuals and organizations transform their thinking from commonplace to extraordinary. Through his keynotes, trainings, coaching and facilitated sessions, Izzy offers imaginative, intuitive and immediately useful insights and programs. He is skilled at delivering meaningful material in a way that makes participants enjoy their time with him.
Izzy was one of the first to use Improv Theater concepts as tools for personal and organizational learning. He is the author of Playing Along: Group Learning Activities Borrowed From Improvisation Theater, a co-author of Cancer & the Healing Power of Play, a co-author of Humor Me: America’s Funniest Humorists on the Power of Laughter, and a contributor of a chapter on Improvisation as a facilitation tool in the IAF Group Facilitators Handbook. "His video course on Applied Improv for Leadership" for Lynda.com was their first course shot before a live audience. A second Lynda.com course, "Humor in the Workplace" was recently rele